This should have been a season remembered by Liverpool for the scoring prowess of Luis Suarez, the dazzling wing play of Raheem Sterling, the blossoming of Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson, the successful repositioning of Steven Gerrard and the attacking verve that made the team the most exciting to watch in the country. Instead, Liverpool’s 2013-14 campaign is likely to be etched in the history books as the year it threw away the Premier League title.
Look at the bigger picture, though, and it has been a year to savor for Liverpool fans. Liverpool, who finished seventh last year, wasn’t expected to be in contention for the title, especially since its main summer purchase was Iago Aspas — a striker unknown outside Spanish football circles. After beating United to make it three wins from Liverpool’s first three games, Rodgers was asked if the team could be a possible title contender. He stifled a laugh of incredulity. But he had a look in his eye that signaled Liverpool meant business this season.
So did Suarez. After missing the first six matches while serving out his ban for biting, the Uruguayan scored 19 goals in 13 matches before Christmas to help put Liverpool top of the standings on December 25. The last four Christmas Day leaders went on to lift the trophy in May but Liverpool couldn’t maintain that streak, despite losing just once in the league in 2014.
That 2-0 home loss to Chelsea — after a run of 11 straight wins — came in heartbreaking fashion for Liverpool Then, nine days later, Liverpool conceded three goals in the last 11 minutes to draw 3-3 at Palace and leave a disconsolate Suarez in tears.
With City finishing the season like an unstoppable train, there was no way back for Liverpool. Liverpool, however, has so many reasons to be positive.
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In Suarez, Liverpool has one of the world’s best players. And in Gerrard, it has a leader who revels in his new ‘quarterback’ position in front of the back four.
Perhaps most important of all, there are smiles back on the faces of Liverpool fans, who have reconnected with the team during its improbable tilt at the title.
“It’s been incredible to see the supporters, to see the power of the club, the institution that is Liverpool. And we’ve made them dream,’’ Rodgers said Sunday. “That’s our job to do that. And we will improve. We’ll be ready to fight again, but now we’ve got the belief.’’